About etiquetteer.com

Etiquetteer is known socially as Robert B. Dimmick. A native of Louisiana, Mr. Dimmick emigrated North for education, finally settling in that Athens of America, Boston, Massachusetts.

Mr. Dimmick spent his childhood attending weddings, reading Emily Post’s Etiquette, and being teased and taunted by other children for minding his mother, taking everything the preacher said seriously, and generally being a Good Boy. This ultimately led to an aversion to organized sports, television, and popular culture in general, and definite opinions about everything from restaurant dining to wedding dresses to historic preservation. Mr. Dimmick believes in the sartorial legacy of President Harry S Truman, getting out of the way of oncoming traffic quickly, and the tasteful expression of free speech. He is, all too often, willing to express an opinion on just about anything.

By day, Mr. Dimmick plans class reunions for one of those great big universities. By night he enjoys club openings, dinner parties, memoirs of the Fabulous, yoga, the music of the American songbook, and spirited conversation with friends. He invites you to behave with Perfect Propriety whether you want to or not.


How to React to an Unwanted Marriage Proposal in Public, Vol. 15, Issue 13

February 13th, 2016 . by Etiquetteer

How to React to an Unwanted Marriage Proposal in Public from Etiquetteer on Vimeo.

St. Valentine’s Day is tomorrow, the designated day to celebrate True Love, and it’s not unusual for suitors to pop the question. These proposals aren’t always accepted, which is too bad . . . or not. But it’s one thing if the proposal is made in private – in your conservatory or music room, for instance – and another if it’s someplace like a restaurant, and still another if it’s on stage at a rock concert, in a stadium during a game, or in the food court of the mall. The internet is full of marriage proposal fail videos like this one*:

They break Etiquetteer’s heart. The lady is embarrassed and/or angry, and the suitor is humiliated publicly, often before a large audience . . . and for eternity, if it ends up on the Internet.

Etiquetteer would like to offer as a suggestion some language to extricate everyone from this situation. When the proposal is finished, the lady should take the hand of her suitor, look at him lovingly (no matter how angry she might feel) and say:

“My dear, it’s such an honor that you’ve chosen me to give the gift of the rest of your life. It’s so beautiful of you – I’m overwhelmed! But I need something else from you, too. When I say Yes to you, I want to say it only to you. I want that moment to be for us alone, and not share it with all these wonderful people watching now. Will you do that for me?”

Then grab him by the arm and get outta there with a swift, unhurried stride. You can tell him when you’re alone that it won’t work out – also that you don’t like the spotlight – but this way you’ve saved him from looking like a loser in public, and you look like a lady who can take anything in stride.

But Etiquetteer hopes that if you DO get a proposal on St. Valentine’s Day, that it’s the one you want.

And with THAT, allow Etiquetteer to wish you all a Perfectly Proper St. Valentine’s Day!

*A couple of advance viewers have pointed out the heteronormative nature of this column. Etiquetteer chose to slant it that way after a cursory search of the Internet failed to disclose any marriage proposal fails from non-heterosexual couples. Obviously the advice applies to couples of all gender combinations.


When Thanks Are Implied But Not Delivered, Vol. 15, Issue 12

February 10th, 2016 . by Etiquetteer

Dear Etiquetteer:

I did a favor for someone which involved some effort on my part, but which I did willingly and with no thought of any repayment or gift.  I received an e-mail from this person a few weeks ago saying he wanted to send me something and asking for my home address.  Now, several weeks later, nothing has arrived.  I don’t care about the gift (in fact, I’m embarrassed by it), and I don’t care if the person has procrastinated (my own failing) or forgotten.  But I’d feel bad if something was lost in the mail.  My inclination is to not say anything, but then the person might be waiting for some thanks from me or comment on the gift (if in fact it was a gift and not just a thank you card).  Should I say anything?

Dear Expectant:

A specific query could inspire Wholesome Feelings of Guilt in your Debtor in Favors, resulting in Glorious Tribute or at least a Lovely Note. But Etiquetteer is inclined, as the old saying goes, to “let sleeping dogs lie.” Procrastinators* often continue procrastinating regardless of the clues and hints lobbed at them. While sensitive to your own wish not to appear ungrateful or neglectful, Etiquetteer advises that you continue to interact with this person just a bit more than you usually do, but without mentioning this issue. For instance, if you talk on the phone once a month, you might now talk on the phone every three weeks; if you email once daily, you might email twice daily. This will give your Debtor in Favors more opportunities either to ask you if you received your Glorious Tribute, or foster Wholesome Feelings of Guilt about not having done anything for you yet – which Etiquetteer hopes will result in Action.


*Etiquetteer is constantly Wagging an Admonitory Digit at That Mr. Dimmick Who Thinks He Knows So Much.

Verbal and Written Thanks, and Video Bonus, Vol. 15, Issue 11

February 8th, 2016 . by Etiquetteer

This afternoon, while Etiquetteer was taking advantage of the French Toast Alert system to stock up on a few Snowstorm Necessities at the local food co-op, the woman bagging groceries couldn’t forbear making a few remarks about the Previous Customer. “You should say thank you when someone’s baggin’ y’groceries!” she said. “I don’t have t’be doin’ this. I could just wawk away ‘n’ say ‘Bye!'” As she mimed the action, Etiquetteer had to beg her hastily not to leave, especially since Etiquetteer was going to thank her!

We ended up Bonding Over the Issue – or at least appearing to, since Etiquetteer can’t really find it Perfectly Proper for an employee to complain about the customers in front of other customers. But the neglect of the Previous Customer did give Etiquetteer pause. We’ve all heard the phrase “know one’s place” before, but never considered another meaning to its original threat of “and don’t try to rise above it or sink beneath it.” Etiquetteer invites you to consider a more truly patriotic rendering: “Know your place as a citizen of a country where all are created equal.” Thanks to those who assist you, even if they are paid to do so, makes a difference. No one should be so grand that they can’t express thanks – especially customers of a food co-op well known for its embrace of progressive causes.

Come to think of it, that’s a new meaning for “Think globally, act locally,” too.


Etiquetteer has also recently been sorting through masses of old papers, and has been Exceedingly Happy rediscovering and rereading Lovely Notes of Thanks from Friends and Family Old and New. Let Etiquetteer tell you, it’s a much more delightful experience – reopening envelopes, feeling the texture of paper, and reading handwriting – than scrolling through one’s email inbox. That handwritten Lovely Note you send now will continue to delight years later, much more than an email, and certainly more than an instantly-deleted text message.


For today’s video content, Etiquetteer shares again some Gentle Suggestions for Teleconferences and Webinars:

etiq15.11 from Etiquetteer on Vimeo.

 If you have queries for Etiquetteer, please be sure to send them to queries <at> etiquetteer <dot> com.


Random Issues, Vol. 15, Issue 10

February 4th, 2016 . by Etiquetteer

It’s been a long time since Etiquetteer did a column on Random Issues, and some readers have, with Delicious Irreverence, provided some interesting queries:

Dear Etiquetteer:

Could you please address adopting local customs when traveling. When in New Orleans, how proper is it to return your breakfast diner waitress’s greeting of “Hey, baby” in kind?

Dear Baby:

After the second coffee refill seems safest.

Dear Etiquetteer:

How do you handle office mates asking for donations?

Dear Unmoved:

With kid gloves that come nowhere near Etiquetteer’s wallet, if you’re really asking how to decline colleagues asking for donations. It’s always possible to say, with a tone of Infinite Regret, “And it’s such a good cause, too, but I have other charitable priorities right now.” They don’t need to know what that other priority is – indeed, it could be You Yourself – so don’t volunteer the information.


Dear Etiquetteer: When the real estate agent arrives to show your house two hours late, and you’ve already scheduled the rest of your afternoon, what is best to do: order him off the stoop, or bow to his and his client’s inability to pace their time properly?

Dear Intruded Upon:

Etiquetteer knows some lovely realtors, and has heard stories about the rest. Long story short, your time is just as valuable as theirs, and if they aren’t able to adjust to your schedule, then they need to go back to the drawing board. Gently but firmly explain that visiting hours were determined in advance for a reason, and that no accommodation can be made at the last minute.

Dear Etiquetteer:

How about rainy day etiquette? Where to stash the umbrella, boots, and what-not.

Dear Rained Upon:

Umbrellas and boots go in the places provided for them, which one hopes are close to the entrance where one removes them. It’s not always possible to unfurl an umbrella indoors to dry it, so it’s especially thoughtful of homeowners to provide one of those marvelous umbrella stands that can hold about a quart of water if necessary.

Victorians always kept their whatnots in the corner, which is really the best place for them.

Dear Etiquetteer:

When one runs over a tourist during Mardi Gras in New Orleans, is it permissible to leave the dried tourist on the car until you can get to a car wash, or should it be washed away at once to prevent damage to the paint of one’s car? I realize that this is more of a practical question, rather than an etiquette question, but I have always wondered . . .

Dear Laissez Les Autos Roulez:

It’s queries like this that make Etiquetteer glad that New Orleans doesn’t have an open carry law. But seriously . . .

Unless you want to be mistaken for a float in the parade representing Cemetery No. One, Etiquetteer advises immediate, respectful removal.


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